Saturday, July 21, 2007

A Former Board Member's Confession--No Diversity On The Board, And I Put Up With It!

Another reason I resigned (there are four main reasons), is that there was and is no diversity on the Colorado Public Radio Board of Directors. I put up with it for four years, and I am embarrassed by that. When I joined the board of Colorado Public Radio four years ago, there was one Hispanic on the board. He left or his term was up, after attending one or two meetings.

In the four years I served on the Board, there were no other Hispanics, no African-Americans, no Asians, no Native Americans. I think that is appalling in this day and age. The size of the board had been increased several times--finally to 27 total members. A year go, 24 of those slots were filled, but still no individuals of color served on the Board. The Board is now down to 11 members, but that was really Management's plan all along, to reduce it to 9 people who could give or get $25,000

The President of Colorado Public Radio, Max Wycisk, will not even let the Committees meet (Nominating Committee, Development Committee, and Programming Committee), unless he can also attend. No wonder not much new radio content gets created at (micro-managed) CPR MEETINGS. Even after the Nominating Committee "suggests" candidates, the CPR President has to meet with them personally to make sure they pass muster. Of course, none of the folks of color, or even the younger candidates, make the cut. So now you understand why there are no people of color on the Board, and why I am really annoyed with myself--that I put up with it. My friends (and enemies) will tell you, I am not usually that easy on this subject.

And then those pesky "draft" governance rules came out in June 2007. The Chair of the CPR Board, Barry Curtiss-Lusher and Vice Chair, Virginia Berkeley of Colorado Business Bank, wrote that they had "spent a lot of time working them" with Mr. Bill Charney of Charney Associates. These draft rules included provisions that the board be reduced to 9 Members (Now I understand why we were not filling vacancies), and that a prerequisite for service on the Board was to give $25,000 yourself or get $25,000 from your rich friends. I thought this fundamentally took the public out of public radio, and turned it into rich people's radio. I never thought that if you decided to become a teacher, a policeman, a civic servant, that your opinion should not count. I also I thought it insulted good people serving on the Board who simply could not give $25,000, so I sent a fiery letter of resignation to the Board. However, I did attend the June board meeting to explain why I was so furious and why I thought the organization was in serious need of intervention by its major donors. Some of the good folks on the Board moved to withdraw these draft rules, and the motion passed. I have been told that my "methods" in going to Westword were questionable and that CPR needs to "move forward," but I am still a bit suspicious about what is going on over there, so I plan to keep track of CPR Management, Officers, and the Board.

I hope you will help me do that by attending the next Colorado Public Radio Board Meeting in September 2007* where they (not you) will discuss their plan to go to HD Radio in Vail, Colorado. The CPR Board was also going to vote on that in June 2007, since Management had already bought the equipment and begun the conversion, but I put up another stink (we trial lawyers do know how to stand up to argue for what is right), and they tabled discussion on the conversion until September 2007.

You will want to hear about the HD Radio plan, because it will cost you! And if you do not have $200 to spend on a new HD Radio, you are not going to get both classical music (KVOD) and news (KCFR), if they proceed with Management's plan. What will you hear on your drive time in the car? I guess you will have to buy another HD radio and install it in your car, but we can discuss that later.

*By the way, this is not an actual public session, as Colorado Public Radio only holds two sessions per year open to "the public."


PocketRadio said...

Don't waste money on HD Radio - consumers are not interested in this farce and iBiquity is looking at other options:

Anonymous said...

Re: "A Former Colorado Public Radio Board Member Takes Her Concerns Online"

Good for Frances to resign, partly over the move to HD Radio. Consumers are totally apathetic towards HD Radio and it is still up to consumers to determine the fate of HD Radio:

Sally said...

My understanding is that even automakers are backing down from their ambitious roll out plans to have HD radios in their new cars due to cost and the slow start of the idea in the consumer market. One of the wonderful things about radio is that it has been so economical. In our area of rural Colorado per capita income for a family of 4 is under $20, do you get programming via a $200 radio with that? Why aren't we talking about reducing costs in the public radio sector? All I ever here is more, more, more. Since gas and food prices aren't figured into any cost of living indexes we aren't seeing the real picutre of how much disposable income is shrinking (that is , of course, unless you happen to be one of those pesky working class people).

Jimmy James Jr. said...


You make excellent points about HD radio automobile roll-outs, costs to consumers, and true cost per household! I can neither afford an HD-equipped new automobile, nor an after-market radio (including the installation charges, I might add). But if it is any consolation, prices for HD radios continue to drop, and most HD radio broadcasters have little interest in broadcasting HD signals to rural America. Short of a mandate from the FCC, they won't do it. And if they are forced to do so, you can bet that most public radio stations can't afford it. So, here's hoping that future pledge drives don't ask us to pony up the money. Otherwise, we'll be riding ponies, not brand new BMWs and Mercedes-Benzs.